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Jim Jordan was headed for a make-or-break vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, as the firebrand Ohio Republican and staunch Donald Trump loyalist stared down opposition from several members of his own party in his quest to become Speaker.
Jordan can afford to lose only a handful of votes from his own party if he is to be elected Speaker, but a number of holdouts had yet to commit to backing him by Tuesday morning.
Tuesday’s vote comes after a dramatic two weeks in Washington, spurred by the removal of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker at the hands of a rebellion of eight members of his own party, who objected to him working with Democrats to avert a government shutdown.
McCarthy’s removal left the lower chamber of Congress rudderless, as Republicans struggled to coalesce around a successor and the House was unable to take up key pieces of legislation, including more foreign aid for Israel and Ukraine.
Jordan, the chair of the House judiciary committee and a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, emerged as the party’s nominee for Speaker late last week after Republicans failed to unite behind a candidate in several rounds of secret ballots.
Now, the Ohio congressman will need to win over nearly all of his Republican colleagues in a public vote on the floor of the House if he is to be elected Speaker.
Republicans control the House by a razor-thin margin, and Democrats have shown no willingness to endorse Jordan, who was described by House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries as an “extremist extraordinaire.”
Jordan appeared to have momentum on Monday afternoon, as several colleagues who initially opposed his candidacy said they would support him.
But at least six holdouts remained on Tuesday morning, including Mike Lawler of New York, Don Bacon of Nebraska and Ken Buck of Colorado. Buck has raised questions about Jordan’s actions in the run-up to the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 and his refusal to admit that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election.
If all representatives turn up to vote in the House on Tuesday, Jordan cannot afford to lose more than four votes.
The Ohio congressman projected confidence on Monday evening, telling reporters as he left a closed-door meeting with fellow Republicans: “We’ve got a few more people we want to talk to, listen to, and then we’ll have a vote, tomorrow.”
Jordan’s allies have not ruled out the possibility of multiple votes on the House floor in order to elect the Speaker. It took 15 rounds of voting in January to elect McCarthy.